Monday, February 13, 2012

Banh Mi Xa Xiu (Vietnamese Sandwich with BBQ Pork)

Following an unfortunate series of dental incidents, I've been strongly (and quite seriously) advised by my worrywart-mother to never bite into a sandwich again.  To be fair, and because I'm an excessive worrier too, the concern is well placed; I've had the worst luck with my (now fake) front tooth.  It all began in middle school, with a horrific ab roller face-plant that resulted in a root canal--immediately post braces-removal, of course.  Last year, the same tooth got struck (and cracked open) by a car door!  Clearly, my teeth are not meant to go near anything solid.  Even so, I still eat banh mi nearly once a week, because nothing, not even a little dental drama, can stand between me and this delicious, mouthwatering, perfect sandwich.  

There’s just something magical about the way the flavors and textures combine in every mouthful of a banh mi.  First it’s the flaky, crispy crust giving way to fluffy, soft bread that tells you, “This is no ordinary sandwich!”  But then, you get hit with a veritable assault of flavors.  The cold, refreshingly tart (but subtly sweet) carrots and daikon contrast with the warm meat filling, while jalapenos add some heat and cucumbers some extra crunch.  Top it all off with some fresh, fragrant cilantro, and you’ve made the perfect sandwich.  Enjoy it the way I do—with extreme gusto, and an impossibly large first bite!

Banh Mi Xa Xiu
Total Recipe Cost: $5.74  for 4 sandwiches!

The best part of this sandwich is that it'll make you excited to eat leftovers!  Here, the xa xiu (or cha siu, in Chinese) can be exchanged for a variety of meats, including roast chicken leftovers.  It may not be strictly authentic Vietnamese, but it'll still taste wonderful--promise.  

4 French baguettes
1/2 lb xa xiu/cha siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)
2 cups pickled carrots and daikon (below)
1 cucumber
1 jalapeno
1 bunch cilantro

Lightly toast the bread, then cut the baguettes open.  If you plan to overstuff your sandwich, pull out some bread from the middle (psst...this makes a great pre-meal snack).  Next, slice the cucumber and jalapeno into thin wedges.  If needed, warm up the cha siu, or whatever meat you're using.  

Spread mayonnaise on both sides of the bread, then layer with cha siu, cucumber slices, and jalapeno slices, evenly dividing between the four sandwiches.  Top off with a healthy portion of pickled carrots and daikon, then fresh cilantro. Take a big bite!

Unit Cost
Total Cost
4 french baguettes
4 T mayonnaise
cha siu, sliced (~1/2 lb)
1 jalapeno
1 cucumber
pickled carrots & daikon
several sprigs of cilantro


Pickled Carrots and Daikon
Adapted from Vietnamese Cuisine
Total Recipe Cost: $1.53 for 1/2 lb!

Typically, I have a hard time finding small daikon; the smallest end up being at least 1/4 lb.  Just match equal amounts of carrot and daikon, depending on your personal preferences.  Since daikon come so large, this recipe makes a lot, but it's also great as a side dish for Vietnamese pork chops, coming soon!  
Also, note that regular white vinegar works as well here, though I like the taste of rice vinegar better.  

1 large carrot
1 small daikon
1 cup sugar
1 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water

Peel the carrot and daikon, then shred/cut into fine matchsticks.  Sprinkle generously with salt, and allow them to sit for 5-10 minutes, or until soft.  Rinse thoroughly and drain. 

Mix together the sugar, rice vinegar, and water.  Soak the carrots and daikon for at least 1 hour, up to overnight.  Drain, then store the pickled carrots and daikon in the refrigerator for up to a week.  (Shhh--this is the part where I nibble on a good chopstick-full). 

Unit Cost
Total Cost
1 large carrot (~¼ lb)
1 small daikon (~¼ lb)
1/2 C water
1 C rice vinegar
1 C sugar





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